Venus Transit Party

2004 Transit of Venus; APOD 2004, June 9; Credit & Copyright: Jimmy Westlake (Colorado Mountain College)What: Venus Transit Party, talk and viewing
Where: Bldg 200 lobby
When: Tuesday, June 5, 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm
The weather will be OK for viewing (50-60% cloud cover) (June 5, 2 pm EDT; this is the final weather update).

The APL Astronomy Club and the APL Space Department are hosting a Venus Transit Party on Tuesday, June 5th. APLers and their friends and families are invited. All activities are in public areas of the lab. Club members will have several telescopes out for your viewing pleasure, including 2 H-alpha ‘scopes and several large ‘scopes with white light filters.

Bring a picnic supper and join us to witness this historic celestial event! (Can’t join us at APL? Check this page for other viewing options in the area. Have to stay home? Try watching one of the simulcasts listed here (or click on the Resources link in the menu bar above).)

4:30 pm in the building 200 lobby: Light refreshments available.

Bldg 200 Parking5 pm in Conference Room 200-E100: The Transit of Venus presented by club member Ron Farris. The talk will address the history and science of Venus transit observations, observing safety, and what to expect during the June 5th transit.

6 pm – 8:30 pm, SW corner of building 200 parking lot: Observe the transit with the club’s special solar equipment. Outside observing will be canceled if the sky is too cloudy. Observing will be located in the South West corner of the building 200 parking lot, which has the lowest North West horizon. Telescope set up starts at 4 pm. Transit begins at 6:05 pm EDT. Sunset is about 8:30 pm. If you own a ‘scope with a solar filter, bring it along and join us! (The club reserves the right to approve the safety of your set up.)

6 pm – 9 pm in the building 200 lobby and E100: Simulcasts of the transit from other observatories.

More information on the Venus Transit and Safe Solar Observing:
Transit of Venus dot org: apps, history, education, stuff to buy, etc. etc. etc.
Transits of Venus (Wiki)
2012 Transit of Venus (Wiki)
How to safely observe the sun.
What makes a safe solar filter?

Looking Up June 2012

Summer solstice, the longest daylight of the year, occurs on June 21. This is also the shortest night of the year, a sadness for us northerly star gazers. Still, the weather is warm, the lightning bugs twinkle in the trees and bushes, and the summer starscape is quietly beautiful.

A few minutes past 6 PM EDT on 5 June 2012, there will be an astronomical event which will not happen again until 10-11 December 2117. This rare event is a transit of Venus across the Solar disk. A transit is a type of eclipse. But unlike a typical eclipse, where the eclipsing object can block the entire Sun, a transit blocks only a small fraction of the Sun. To learn more about transits in general, and this transit in particular, come to the talk at the Venus Transit Party, or check some of these Venus Transit resources.

Evening Sky: Mars and Saturn are still high in the sky towards the south-west. At magnitude +0.5, they both outshine the nearby bright star Spica in Virgo. Towards the middle of the month, Mercury starts a month-long evening apparition. In the last half of June, Mercury sets about 1.5 hours after sunset, towards the West-Northwest.

Pre-dawn Sky: For those who out before dawn, the morning sky holds some treats. Jupiter has emerged from behind the sun, and will rise about 45 minutes before sunrise at the start of the month. By the end of the month, Jupiter will rise 2 hours before sunrise. Looking East-Northeast about half an hour before sunrise on the 17th, the waning crescent moon will be just to the left and slightly below Jupiter.

That’s all for this month. And, as the great Jack Horkhemier used to say, Keep Looking Up!

Helen Hart, 1 June 2012; references: Joe Spargo’s June Skies article; the Astronomical Calendar, Starry Night planetarium program, USNO Astronomical Data Services.


Solar Star Party May 15, bldg 200


What: Solar Observing
Where: Building 200 Cafeteria Patio
When: Tuesday, May 15, noon to 1:00 pm

Come view the Sun, our very own star, with the APL Astronomy Club. Count sunspots, see faculae and plages and maybe granulation and spicules, and compare the view through different kinds of equipment.

Open to anyone on campus who is interested.

If it’s too cloudy the event will be canceled. Check for a Weather Status Update at this web site on May 15th about 10 am.